Sometimes when I sit down to write about the Baltimore Orioles, I wonder what even am I doing? Why am I spending my Sunday afternoon fending off my four-year-old daughter’s requests to play so that I can pay attention to a team that loses all the time? A team that, if I’m being honest, brings me very little happiness. A team that seems hopeless no matter where their minor league system ranks. A team that I have a hard time believing will actually be good any time soon.
There must be something about this team or this sport that keeps me here, even when there seems to be little reason to even check the score at the end of the day, let alone watch them day in and day out. I’m still working on figuring that all out, because it seems that if they haven’t driven me away by now, they never will.
Anyway, let’s talk about today’s game, in which the Orioles lost for the 18th consecutive time.
In a world where the Orioles weren’t mired in such a losing streak, this game would feel like a pretty run-of-the-mill loss. The pitching was decent but the offense just kept missing their opportunities, resulting in a low-scoring 3-1 loss.
John Means pitched six innings, five of which were very good. He gave up just one single through the first three innings, but faced the minimum due to a double play ball. Then came the fourth inning.
With one out in the fourth, Jorge Soler broke the 0-0 shot with home run off of a changeup from Means. It wasn’t a monster shot; it landed in the first row of the seats above the Bud Light advertisement in left field. Soler got just enough. As he circled the bases, that’s when I knew the Orioles would lose today. It’s sad to know that when it’s just a 1-0 field in the fourth inning, but that’s where we are.
The next batter up was Freddie Freeman, and he also sent a ball to left field. DJ Stewart chased after it with his bum knee and his subpar defensive skills. The ball bounced off the fence and a moment later, so did Stewart’s body. Freeman ended up on second base with a double. I’m not saying that Austin Hays or Ryan McKenna definitely would have caught that ball, but I am saying that I’d much rather have either one of them out there.
Hays started the game on the bench, presumably to get DJ’s lefty bat in the lineup. DJ was hitless. Meanwhile McKenna is in Norfolk.
After getting Austin Riley to pop out for the second out, Means walked Dansby Swanson and then gave up a two-run double to Adam Duvall. The ball was hit to the left-center gap. Cedric Mullins was playing closer to right field and just couldn’t get there in time.
Means came back out for the fifth and retired six straight batters, including making Ozzie Albies look silly on a strikeout to end the fifth.
John Means, Filthy 3 Pitch K Sequence (all curveballs). pic.twitter.com/yqoNQlhkTe— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 22, 2021
Means started the seventh inning but after issuing a leadoff walk, Brandon Hyde pulled him from the game. His relief, Dillon Tate, got out of the inning without allowing the fourth run to score. Tate, Tanner Scott, and Jorge Lopez put together three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, each allowing one hit.
And what about that offense? Well, it’s not that the Orioles didn’t have chances. They did. But going just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and hitting into three double plays isn’t going to help get the job done. Ryan Mountcastle especially had a rough time, leaving five men on base in his at bats.
The first big chance to score came in the third inning. A walk by Austin Wynns and a double from Cedric Mullins put runners on second and third with two outs, but Mountcastle grounded out.
They pushed their one and only run across the plate in the fourth inning, already down three runs. Trey Mancini led off and doubled, then came in to score on a two-out double from Ramon Urias. Jorge Mateo followed Urias with a walk, but Wynns struck out to end the inning.
In the fifth, Richie Martin singled but then Mountcastle GIDP’d to end the inning. That was the second GIDP of the game, the first came in the first inning. The third GIDP was in the seventh. Mateo singled and then it was Wynns’s turn to hit into the twin killing. The Orioles tried to rally even after that, as Martin singled and Mullins walked, but poor Mountcastle struck out.
Thanks to the solid work by the relief crew, every time the Orioles got a run on base it felt like it might finally be when they took a lead. But they never did. Their last chance was in the ninth inning when Urias doubled with no outs. Mateo struck out, but then Pedro Severino started his at bat 3-0. That’s promising! Just kidding, he flew out. Pinch hitter Maikel Franco then struck ou to end the game.
Orioles lose, 3-1. It’s their 18th consecutive loss and their fifth straight series sweep. Enjoy tomorrow’s off day. I know I will.